In the great tradition of charity puzzle packs, the wonderful folks at Grids for Kids just released a fantastic pack of 25 crosswords (some for kids, some for adults) all written by parents in support of a wide array of charities benefiting children. Nice!
Jeremy Newton’s New York Times crossword, “Hollywood Remakes” —Nate’s write-up
Let’s jump into today’s Tinseltown grid, which you can still access online… an increasing rarity for NYT puzzles these days!
– 22A THEIR RITES TOUGH [“That cult’s initiation ceremony is brutal!” ]
– 32A THAI TAN KNICK [Bronzed New York basketball player from Bangkok ]
– 49A HELL OWED ALI [Why the Devil was forced to pay “The Greatest” ]
– 65A AH MIDDAY YES [Cry after remembering to meet at noon ]
– 81A SCHICK HOG GO [“You there, hoarding the Quattro razor! Scram! ]
– 95A GLAD HE ATE HER [How one cannibal felt after devouring the other ]
– 110 THUMB-MADE TRICKS [Some optical illusions created with one’s fingers ]
– 30D OSCAR WINNER [What you get upon reading aloud the answers to the seven italicized clues]
– 46D SOUND MIXING [Category for which every 30-Down in this puzzle was recognized, aptly]
Ooof. I guess I’ll just say this puzzle wasn’t for me. I’ll give it credit for a lot of theme density, but I struggled mightily to get any of the themers until the tail end of my solve because they mostly read to me as nonsensical phrases of mostly short words strung together because they roughly sound like movie titles. I thought my inroad was GLAD HE ATE HER as an anagram for HEATH LEDGER, but not quite and it was back to the drawing board for me. Some of the themers especially didn’t land for me because the syllabification was off (HELL OWED ALI) or because they used different sounds all together (GLAD HE AT HER).
Critically, since the theme entries are meant to be (rough?) homophones, the SOUND MIXING revealer didn’t land for me. The sounds weren’t mixed, right? If anything, the weird phrases were meant to preserve the sounds as much as possible. I think this revealer would have been stronger if syllables from movie titles had be rearranged somehow, so I feel like I’m missing something, but this is the constructor’s 16th Sunday NYT puzzle so he must be doing something right. If anything, I might have scaled back a bit on the theme density to spruce up the rest of the fill a bit, which felt like it suffered from the constraints of the puzzle.
On the bright side, I enjoyed clues like [Six-foot runners?] for ANTS and [Line at a karaoke bar] for LYRIC. Were there any other clues you enjoyed?
Be well, have a great weekend! And, if you’re in New England, stay warm!
Fred Piscop’s Universal Sunday crossword, “I’m Exhausted!”—Jim P’s review
Theme clues contain synonyms of the puzzle’s title with the keywords hinting at the professions which are the theme answers.
- 21a. [The ___ said “I’m all in!”] POKER PLAYER. This was a tough one to start with since I’ve never heard the phrase “all in” as a synonym for “exhausted.” I’ve only ever heard it used in gambling or as a sign of commitment.
- 23a. [The ___ said “I’m spent!”] TREASURER.
- 41a. [The ___ said “I’m fried!”] SHORT ORDER COOK. I think I like this one best since a SHORT ORDER COOK is probably one who does a lot of frying.
- 63a. [The ___ said “I’m bushed!”] LANDSCAPER.
- 67a. [The ___ said “I’m wiped!”] DISHWASHER.
- 88a. [The ___ said “I’m tired!”] GOODYEAR DEALER. Meh. This doesn’t really fit. None of the others have brand names, and this isn’t an in-the-language phrase.
- 111a. [The ___ said “I’m beat!”] TYMPANIST. Nice one, but I admit I had to try to remember what a tympani was. The word makes it sound light and delicate, like a flute. Not like a big, beefy drum.
- 113a. [The ___ said “I’m shot!”] PHOTO EDITOR.
So…a couple of misses for me, but mostly pretty good. I like the Tom-Swiftian nature of the theme, and it’s interesting to see how many different words we use to say the same thing. If only the British “knackered” could’ve been incorporated since it’s such a fun word.
Let’s see what we have in the lines of long fill: LET FREE, CURRANT, NEPALESE, CHILLIER, AM RADIO, GRENADA, GO TO SEA, AIR LEAK, TOW ROPE, ON LEAVE, MELROSE. Solid, though nothing especially sparkly. I think HOT SEAT is my favorite bit of fill in the grid. Nothing questionable or weird, and that made the solve proceed quite smoothly.
Clues of note:
- 52a. [Non-Mormon, to a Mormon]. GENTILE. Huh. News to me. I guess it’s human nature to have a (potentially offensive) word for outsiders: GENTILE, haole (Hawaiian), sassenach (Scottish), muggle (Harry Potter). Here’s a whole list of them.
- 78d. [Call-in show medium]. AM RADIO. I really thought this was using “medium” as a synonym for “seer.”
Solid, smooth Sunday grid. 3.5 stars.
Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword, “The Call of the Wild”—Matthew’s write-up
This week, Evan has found phrases that end in animal sounds, and we’ve got fun clues to go with them:
- 23a [Sound made by … a wolf when a web page is being pulled up?] LOADING BAY
- 25a [… a correct dolphin?] RIGHT CLICK
- 39a [… a dog after it eats something coated with a brown spice?] CINNAMON BARK
- 56a [… a stupid chicken?] DUMB CLUCK
- 66a [… a bee flying near a grouchy Muppet?] OSCAR BUZZ
- 83a [… a snake owned by author Horatio?] ALGER HISS
- 93a [… an angry lion during rush hour?] TRAFFIC SNARL
- 113a [… a sprinting cow?] RUNNING LOW
- 116a [… a moose when it greets “Breaking Bad” lawyer Goodman?] SAUL BELLOW
Familiar theme entries and a fun gimmick.
- 20a [“____ Holmes 2” (2022 mystery sequel)] ENOLA. The Enola Holmes films are witty and engaging, and an new perspective on Sherlock, as well. I’m a big fan after being unfamiliar with the book series that inspired them.
- 22a [Country that has lost its way?: Abbr.] NOR. As in “Norway.” Cute
- 59a [PC game in which you travel through a portal called a Linking Book] MYST. Myst was a bit before my time, but I remember my father playing it, and I’ve been meaning to try it out, with all my free time.
- 92a [Personal appearances] MIENS. I just like this word.
- 112a [Nat stat] ERA. As in a Washington Nationals (“Nats”) pitcher.
- 124a [He cracked jokes with Andy on late-night TV] CONAN. Every once in a while I come across a clip of Conan’s podcast now, and enjoy it, but I’m just not much of a listener to banter-type podcasts like that.
- 10d [Astronaut Kayla] BARRON. LCDR Barron has spent 176 days, 2 hours, and 39 minutes in space.
- 29d [Bowling Green’s state] OHIO. I root for a school in the same conference as the Bowling Green Falcons, whose most significant rival is Toledo, both on the west end of Lake Erie.
- 80d [Indie rock band with the 1995 album “Electr-O-Pura”] YO LA TENGO. I don’t know that I’ve heard anything from the band, but the source of their name is a nice trivia chestnut. From Wikipedia:
The name came from a baseball anecdote that occurred during the 1962 season, when New York Mets center fielder Richie Ashburn and shortstop Elio Chacón found themselves colliding in the outfield. When Ashburn went for a catch, he would scream, “I got it! I got it!” only to run into Chacón, a Venezuelan who spoke only Spanish. Ashburn learned to yell, “Yo la tengo! Yo la tengo!” instead
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today crossword, “Foil-Wrapped” —Darby’s write-up
Theme: Each theme answer begins and ends with letters spelling out FOIL.
- 17a [“Vegan source of some omega-3 fatty acids”] FLAXSEED OIL
- 24a [“Feature of a barn swallow”] FORKED TAIL
- 51a [“What superheroes fight against”] FORCES OF EVIL
- 61a [“Feature of a river delta or floodplain”] FERTILE SOIL
Four themers was a nice bonus for today. The title, “Foil-Wrapped,” made it pretty clear what to expect, theme-wise. FORCES OF EVIL was my favourite of the four, but I also really enjoyed FORKED TAIL (knowing the theme was helpful with this) and FLAXSEED OIL. Also: shout-out to Sally Hoelscher’s blog since I forgot to take a screenshot.
I appreciated the asymmetry of this grid. I also really enjoyed 10d [“Suspects something isn’t right”] SMELLS A RAT and 42d [”’That’ll do for me’”] I’M ALL SET. I also really enjoyed CHEERFUL and 5d [“‘Aw, already?’”] SO SOON.